Aquaponics Garden Part 2 – Putting it all together

Finally, we’re at the fun part – putting it all together. It’s all assembled now; there were a few frustrating moments and a couple of hardware store runs, but all in all, it went rather smoothly.

It started by drilling a hole in the bottom of a grow bed and installing the bell siphon. That first hole was a bit nerve wracking, but using the right bit made all the difference in getting a clean hole with no tearouts. I’ll talk more about the bell siphon in another post.

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The “bell” of the bell siphon: a 2″ pvc pipe with a cap on the top and slits cut in the bottom.

It took several hours to get to this point ( I know, I know, that comment I made in the last post about projects taking twice as long as expected was way understated). The two grow beds are each equipped with a bell siphon and media guards (designed to keep the expanded clay balls and plant roots out of the siphon) and drain to the sump tank.

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The grow beds with their siphons and drains into the sump tank.

Things went a little faster when installing the fish tank drains. There are two separate drains in case one gets clogged. They are simple pipes that are open at the top so a siphon does not form (we do not want the fish tank draining itself dry) and have large openings in the bottom to draw water and fish waste from the bottom of the tank. This should keep the fish waste from accumulating at the bottom of the fish tank and allow it to be distributed to the plant beds, where it will be broken down into plant nutrients.

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This is the last hole being drilled through the tank walls. A bulkhead fitting is inserted and the 3/4″ pipes are friction fit to it.

I like the tidy look of the tanks and their drains, but there is more to come.

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We decided to use 5/8″ drinking water-safe garden hose for the supply lines. Apparently, most garden hoses contain lead, which means I am surely suffering from lead poisoning, and which might explain a few things. Anyway, our fish and plants will not be subject to lead hose. Using a garden hose allowed us to use a garden hose manifold valve, and it seems like it might make things slightly easier to adjust than using fixed pipes.

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The garden so far.

The hose manifold valve has water entering from the pump in the sump tank, and exiting to the grow beds and fish tank. The middle two outlets go to the fish tank.

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Close up of the water distribution hoses and valves.

Next on the to do list: testing the bell siphons and the entire system for leaks. Stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “Aquaponics Garden Part 2 – Putting it all together

    • And unlike most gardening projects, we’re staying clean and dry (until we add water) and no sore muscles at the end of the day! Also fish.

  1. Oh my Lord, I had no idea how big these tanks were until I saw your assistant inside one! Either that or your assistant has shrunk.. Until now I pictured this enterprise fitting nicely on a small counter-top. My mind reels when I imagine the size of the fish.

    • Well, the assistant has maintained his figure for many years, so it’s not him. The fish will be ordinary, small goldfish to start, but we’re hoping they’ll thrive and grow.

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